“star wars” experts: disney “strikes” gold with “empire” writer

Little is known about who will direct the next “Star Wars” movie. But we know that Pixar favourite Michael Arndt has been tasked with writing “Episode VII,” and now we know the names of two other writers joining him for the eighth and ninth installments in the historic science fiction series: “X-Men: First Class” scribe Simon Kinberg, and an old Lucasfilm favourite, “Empire Strikes Back” writer Lawrence Kasdan, according to Heat Vision.

“I’m thrilled to hear that Kasdan has been approached to return,” TheForce.net’s Eric Geller tells MTV News about the writer’s return to the “Star Wars” universe. “He was instrumental in making ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ a strong story and concluding the trilogy — and, so we thought until last month, the saga — with ‘Return of the Jedi.'”

Kasdan’s involvement, though welcome, is also surprising, according to Adam Rosenberg, a journalist who has written about “Star Wars” for Rolling Stone, G4 and MTV.com.

“It’s an unexpected move,” says Rosenberg. “But you can certainly see the sense in it from Disney’s perspective: there’s zero downside signing on the writer of the greatest ‘Star Wars’ movie, and one of film’s finest sequels, no less. How can fans not love it?”

Kinberg, on the other hand, is an unknown quantity in the “Star Wars” universe. NextMovie.com’s Kevin Polowy considers him “an interesting choice; he’s definitely got an energy and zeal to his writing that should play well in between light saber battles.” But others, like Rosenberg, want to know just how much Kinberg is already invested in the “Star Wars” mythos.

“You have to figure that he’s a fan on some level, given that (a) he’s a 39-year-old dude with a love for film spectacle, and (b) he got the gig at all,” he says. “Kinberg’s wit and action sense paired with Kasdan’s knack for painting strong characters (see: ‘The Big Chill’) could make for an explosive combo. I hope these two bring out the best in one another.”

For Geller, the hiring of Kasdan and Kinberg shows that Lucasfilm recognizes the unique challenges of relaunching the “Star Wars” films.

“On one hand, they need people who are familiar with what mainstream audiences want these days,” he says, referring to Kinberg. “On the other hand, criticism of sequels from diehard fans of the prequels can be a poison pill for the franchise. So [Lucasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy needs to commune with folks like Kasdan, who were there almost from the beginning.”

“I like this strategy a lot,” says Polowy. “The biggest challenge facing the creators of the new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy is staying true to the mythology and ethos of the beloved originals while still evolving that universe for a 21st century audience. It’s a tough balance to find — as the second trilogy proved — but this is a smart way to go about it.”

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